It’s no small thing that our feeds have been clogged with statuses reading #MeToo. Statistics are staggering when we look at the number of men and women who have been sexually harassed. The trending hashtag is finally giving a voice to that injustice. So how come when it’s my turn to share, I shy away?
Maybe it’s because I’m embarrassed. I’ve always been a fun loving, extroverted type that loves to meet new people. So in interacting with others, I hate when things get uncomfortable. When it appears that someone is just trying to be nice, it’s hard to call out boundaries. And even if they are aware of what they’re doing, they’ll never admit that things have been taken too far. You’re left with two options: endure the harassment or be made to look like the bad guy.
Example: Once I took a man’s fancy at an on-location work assignment. We were all living within yards of each other, so it was hard to avoid his persistence when we got off work. He was friends with my coworkers (and honestly my friend too), so he came over to have a few drinks. When I left to shower and sleep, he followed me to my room, pressed his lips against mine and told me he had feelings for me. Even when I explained that the feelings weren’t mutual, he insisted on staying the night because he was too drunk to get home.
He’ll tell you that I wanted it. He even had the audacity to message me months later and try to blame me for leading him on. I couldn’t win. It wasn’t enough to laugh off his advances OR tell him straightforward I wasn’t interested. Rock, meet hard place.
Maybe it’s because I’m afraid. As independent as I am, it’s hard to admit that people’s ignorance affects me so much. Since moving to a big city, the way I behave and treat others has drastically shifted. I never leave the house without headphones in, just so I have a reason to ignore the cat calls. Half the time I’m not even listening to music, although it makes me feel better to drown out what they say. I feel like I have to shut the world out in order to protect myself.
Example: I once walked into a grocery store with a male friend. No one payed us mind as we innocently hunted for cookie dough and ice cream. The second I stepped into the next aisle without him however, I became a target. A man started shouting “Hey!” walking towards me, as I hurried away trying to keep my eyes focused on the shelves. “Miss, Miss, excuse me please” he persisted until I finally looked up.
“You sure are pretty ma’am, you got a boyfriend?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Wow I can’t believe that, you are so beautiful. Do you want one?”
Eye roll. All that fuss so you could advance on someone perusing the baking aisle? I will not tell my future children their father hollered at me while grocery shopping. I know I’ve done nothing wrong, but why do I feel bad for asking this guy to get off my back?
Maybe it’s because I’m defeated. When I try to vent about these situations sometimes people respond with, “at least you’re pretty enough to get hit on.” Then there’s those that laugh it off and tell me it happens to everyone, I should be used to it. I even had someone tell me once that everything I had achieved in life was because of the way I looked, and that if I didn’t look this way things would be different. I should be grateful, right? This is just the way of the world, there’s nothing we can do about it.
Example: One night I went out with a girl friend who baited men for drinks like it was an Olympic sport. Didn’t matter if they were young or old, cute or gangly, if they had a wallet she was after her prize. I remember morally being against the practice, but with her persistence and my shortage on funds, I decided to play along. After accepting a round she badgered from two gentlemen I never ended up meeting, I heard this exchange at the other end of the bar:
[Two male friends to two female friends]
“Wait so you aren’t going to come back home with us?”
The girls timidly nodded-
“Then what the hell did we just spend all this money on drinks for!?”
Needless to say, that was the last night I went out with that friend.
What’s funny is that through all of this I haven’t even skimmed the surface of my own personal injustice. So when we get to talking about the magnitude of this on a global level, my stomach goes sour and a lump rises in my throat. I mean think about the commonality of rape, or children born into these situations without knowing their victimhood, much less the millions of other men and women subject to sexual abuse each day!? It’s paralyzing.
I’m overwhelmed and uncomfortable seeing all of these testimonies on my feed. Up until now it’s been easy to push this problem away instead of facing it, because I’ve found little hope in a solution. I mean, the homeless man who followed me down the street calling me “sweetie pie” isn’t going to read this article.
Our pain has been diminished over time because it’s our nature to adapt.
This is why the #MeToo movement is so important. Even though your voice may seem small, you are not alone in your fight. Social media is being used here as an asset to shed light on reality. Take advantage of your ability to take a stand against your oppressors, and watch what happens next.
I have been violated and hurt by those who do not respect my body or mind, and I am taking a stand.
Fight on friends, fight on.
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